With audiences across the world terrified, It is fast becoming one of the most popular horror movies of all time. Translating the iconic Stephen King novel to a more audience friendly form, the film follows a group of seven children having to face their greatest fears and work together to defeat a murderous clown known as Pennywise.
Director Andy Muschietti had a difficult task respecting the source material while also competing with the iconic 90s miniseries but he manages to give the film its own identity; creating a dark and cruel world yet filling it with interesting and often comical characters. While satisfying everyone’s expectations of fear, the biggest surprise is how often It makes you laugh. The young cast of protagonists all do an excellent job balancing the horror and comedy, each having their own distinct personality and struggle throughout the film. It would be easy to create purely sympathetic characters but Muschietti manages to make them feel like real children; scared yet headstrong and willing to do anything for each other. Their bond is believable and I found myself really invested in their friendship and their battle to survive, making the violent horror of Pennywise all the more nail-biting.
Using each of the children’s worst fear, the creature known as It has the ability to take many different forms throughout the film and each is more terrifying than the last. This variety is one of the many elements that makes our antagonist so horrifying; Pennywise itself being portrayed brilliantly by Bill Skarsgård, constantly twitching and filled with glee; the performance is enhanced by special effects that helps put the inhuman creature on the precipice of the uncanny valley. While the terror of the clown can sometimes be diminished by its exaggerated physicality and acting, it is integral to the charm and identity of the film. This charm is what makes It stand out, the creeping fear that sits underneath every facet of the idyllic small town setting creating a brilliantly tense atmosphere. Muschietti uses this to constantly keep you on edge and uncomfortable, each sudden scare feeling earned rather than cheap as you have actual investment in the world and the characters.
It brings together many strong elements; the characters, atmosphere and mythos of the novel being captured perfectly but without some of the controversies King is infamous for. Much like the book and the original adaptation with Tim Curry, Andy Muschiettis It is destined to be an iconic classic.